Buck on the Trail

I caught a video of a buck deer (shot through our sun room window) on the trail of a doe yesterday. He looked a little old and on the slow side. And the doe was shy and just galloped away whenever he got too close.

Maybe he’s constipated. He might need a little Serutan. The Serutan company sponsored the Lawrence Welk show for a while. The laxative seemed to target people over the age of 35 according to one article on the web.

Remember, Serutan is Nature’s spelled backwards.

Ugly Juggling!

You know, what I wonder is whether there is a place for ugly juggling? Because that’s what I do. There might be such a thing as an ugly juggling stage in learning to juggle, and could there be an Ugly Juggling Society?

I could be the president. We could have annual meetings in warm climates and juggle ugly until we drop our balls. Careful. We could have ugly juggling contests, live music, and a hog roast.

I tried juggling my wife’s socks and even a cold or heat pack we got from the Iowa City Police. Don’t worry, I was not placed under arrest. It was a complimentary gift from a member of the local police force who attended the opening of the newly renamed James Alan McPherson Park in Iowa City.

I think I might be ready for the bronze trophy for getting 10 throws, more or less consistently (OK maybe a little less).

If you think my juggling is ugly, you’ve got to see the scandalous cat juggling event. I would never stoop that low, especially since I’m allergic to cat dander.

Juggling Jim’s 3 Ball Cascade

Just to update you on my juggling progress, I’ve come up with some personal goals. My milestone are the iconic 3 trophies, gold, silver, and bronze, to line up with what I’m learning—the 3-ball cascade.

The trophies are keyed to the number of throws you make when you juggle. The juggling manual says 30 throws is the milestone that means you’ve made important progress in the cascade stage.

I’m arbitrarily setting 10 throws for bronze, 20 for silver, and of course, 30 for the gold.

I’ll be the first to admit my form is pretty ugly, but I’m working on it. I need to keep my balls closer to my chest. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Anyway, I practice juggling over the bed because it cuts down on the having to pick up the dropped balls from the floor—at least that’s the theory.

They fall on the floor often enough that I’ve made a game out of it. I start juggling on one side of the bed and when I drop one or more balls on the bed out of my reach or on the floor, I switch to juggling on the other side of the bed.

I switch sides a lot. Sometimes the balls end up in the window sill or bouncing off my head—so switch sides.

The other thing I do is count the number of throws out loud. When I do it in a kind of sing-song voice, I often am able to make more throws. I guess it helps me focus. Goodness knows I can always use more focus.

Certain numbers of throws are like walls. I got stuck at 3 for a short while, and then 4 or 5. Six throws are usual for me for the most part.

However, it’s more and more common for me to throw more than 6 the more I practice. Occasionally I can throw 10 or even more—although my form is pretty awkward.

If you read my lips, you can follow my count, including the lucky 20 throw. When I get more consistent, I just might be eligible for the bronze trophy.

See the World’s Largest Dinosaurs Exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa!

You can see the world’s largest dinosaurs exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa from October 15, 2022 to April 16, 2023. It’s a traveling exhibit, so see it before it thunders off!

Odds and Ends

I just have some odds and ends to shake off.

The critter cam got a few shots of deer running through the back yard. I retired it for now, since the drain tile grate has been stable for a couple of weeks.

I did manage to get a picture of a young buck. I tried to look up how to count the antler points but it sounds pretty complicated. We just thought he was interesting. He obviously thought the females he was following were interesting because he didn’t hang around long on our lawn.

I finally won a cribbage game with Sena! What a miracle.

I’m at best ambivalent about hanging paintings. Sena purchased one called Stained Feather. It looks stained. I don’t always get it when it comes to art. Paintings are often hard to hang. There’s the whole thing with measuring the wall and the painting, attaching the hooks, and hanging it straight. I don’t have fun with it, frankly. But we like how it looks on the wall.

We have a peaceful, colorful autumn view from our sunroom. It’s calming.

My Cribbage Losing Streak and My Review of the Cribbage Classic Computer Game

Sena and I played cribbage yesterday and, of course she won. She has been on a spectacular winning streak. She got a hand score of 21. I don’t know what I’m going to have to do to come up with a win. Cheat? I could keep extra cards up my sleeves and elsewhere, but I doubt it would help much.

I downloaded the Cribbage Classic computer game, the on-line version of which I reviewed recently. The game was made by Jeff Cole and is available for free on the Microsoft Store. And it’s fun to play–although it’s always more fun to play cribbage with a real person.

I think it’s a good game for learning how to play if you’re a beginner or to relearn if you haven’t played in a while and need a refresher. I still make suboptimal tosses to the crib, which the computer reminds me about every single time. I reviewed the game using a screen recorder.

Dryer Ball Juggling Combo!

I’m still making slow but steady progress at juggling. I’m juggling 3 balls although my form and rhythm need a lot of work. I’m still lunging to catch balls I’m tossing too far out in front of me.

But I’m having a great time learning. You’ll notice I sometimes count the throws. I have a long way to go to get to the goal of 30 tosses.

The dryer ball trick includes a couple of dryer balls which I add to the usual 2-inch juggling ball which came with the kit I bought at Barnes and Noble. Or I add the big brown one to the two small regular juggling balls.

The brown dryer ball with a face which looks sort of like a teddy bear is almost 3 inches in diameter and really tough to catch coming down. The knobby blue one is part of a set we’ve had for use in our dryer for a while now.

I can’t tell if the dryer balls work or not in the dryer, but they’re fun to juggle.

Through the Eye of the Needle Threader

Sena had some sewing to do the other day and bought a small sewing kit. It included something we’ve never seen before—a needle threader. It’s shown in the featured image above.

Sena asked me to help her get the needle threaded. I tried to do it the old-fashioned way and, of course, couldn’t get the job done. She finally did it on her own, the old-fashioned way.

I was curious about the needle threader though, and finally tried it when I got the chance to thread another needle for her. It worked.

When I was a kid, I used to thread needles for my mother when she needed to do some sewing. I had pretty good eyesight then, now not so much.

I read that the face on the handle side of the needle threader represents Ariadne, who is very important in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Minos, who ruled Crete back in the day. The short story is that the Greek hero Theseus got roped into a battle with a half-man, half-monster called the Minotaur held in a big cave with a labyrinth. Sacrificial persons couldn’t find their way out and were wasted by the Minotaur.

Ariadne helped Theseus by giving him a ball of thread, which he used to find his way out of the labyrinth after he slew the Minotaur. I think she later was hired to be the goddess of mazes and labyrinths. It’s a neat story when you tell the short version, although the usual Greek myths are always a lot more complicated, much like modern soap operas.

Anyway, I practiced a little with the needle threader, which by the way probably got patented in the 1930s. I’ll probably never pick it up again, but there’s no denying it’s a fascinating and useful little gadget.

Blue Jays at Breakfast

We saw these Blue Jays having breakfast in our back yard trees this morning. They’re pretty comical. They were also eating some kind of seeds they dug out of the trees. I can’t tell what kind of trees they are now that the leaves are all shriveled up.

I looked through an old bird book, Birds of Iowa, by Stan Tekiela. It doesn’t say anything very specific about what Blue Jays eat except the usual insects, fruit, seeds and nuts (like acorns and peanuts). They’ll eat raw eggs and baby birds. They also cache food.

If you can tell what kind of nut or seed that Blue Jay has in its beak, please let me know.

Sometimes Names are Hard

I was listening to John Heim aka Big Mo on the Big Mo Blues Show (radio KCCK 88.3) last night and he was talking about this time of year, calling it “Indian summer.” He second-guessed himself about calling it that and even wondered aloud whether it might be “politically incorrect.” Sometimes names are hard.

All of my life I’ve know that this time of year, which can be pretty warm and dry for autumn, has been called Indian summer.

Honestly, I have never given any thought to the term “Indian summer.” I looked into it and it turns out that the term can be offensive to Native Americans (indigenous peoples). One article pointed out that the American Meteorological Society removed the phrase from its official glossary in October 2020.

That was an eye opener for me. It also jogged my memory. I remember hearing about the name for the opposite time of year in North America when I was working as a land surveyor’s assistant and drafter for consulting engineers when I was a young man. It’s called Blackberry winter. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it’s the time of year when there is a brief period of cold weather in the late spring about the time blackberries are in bloom.

It turns out there are a few other names for the season in which certain flowers bloom during the cold snap, like Locust winter and Dogwood winter.

Alternative names for Indian summer have been proposed; one of them is simply late summer or “Second summer.”

I guess Second summer is okay, although I wonder if we could come up with something snazzier and analogous to Blackberry winter. There are some flowers that bloom during that time of year. How about?

Marigold summer

Zinnia summer

Sunflower summer

I got these ideas from a web article entitled “Indian Summer Flowers; Summer Season Flowers in India.” I realize the meaning of the word “Indian” in this article refers to the country of India, which highlights another complexity of names. On the other hand, marigolds are the flowers a lot of people plant in their gardens in North America.

I also found a web site which calls the Black-Eyed Susan, “Indian Summer Black Eyed Susan.” This one didn’t connect the flower to India. I guess you couldn’t apply the same rule above to rename it to something like Marigold Summer Black-Eyed Susan—too confusing.

So, just call it a Black-Eyed Susan and leave it at that. Sometimes names are hard—which makes us think a little harder about the names we choose.

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